Donald Trump is on Track to Confirm 180 Federal Judges—Just As He Predicted in November

President Donald Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a promise to remake the federal judiciary, predicted last month that he would nominate more than 180 federal judges to the bench by the end of the year. He is well on track to do so.

This year alone, the Senate has confirmed 90 of the president's nominees. The pace of confirmations has significantly increased, rolling along twice as quickly compared with the first two years of Trump's presidency, when he placed 85 judges on the bench. Those first years saw two of the president's most polarizing and legacy-making nominations so far—Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

This week, the Senate confirmed eight of Trump's nominees. As it now stands, Trump has 51 more judicial nominees pending before the Senate. Should only a handful of these clear the upper chamber, the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have made Trump's promise a reality.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed one judge, Sarah Pitlyk, who was rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association (ABA). Republican Senator Susan Collins was the only member of her party to vote against Pitlyk's confirmation.

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President Trump Delivers State Of The Union Address To Joint Session Of Congress
Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh attend the State of the Union address on February 5. Pool/Getty

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, the ABA noted that "Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal. She has never examined a witness. Though Ms. Pitlyk has argued one case in a court of appeals, she has not taken a deposition. She has not argued any motion in a state or federal trial court. She has never picked a jury. She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter."

The president's process of selecting and vetting nominees has been fundamentally shaped by groups like the Federalist Society, according to reports. The organization's executive vice president, Leonard Leo, has worked multiple angles to produce a raft of reliably conservative nominees.

Below is a list of the federal judicial nominees under consideration by the Republican-controlled Senate, with their date of nomination, the court to which they were nominated and their official rating from the ABA, if one was available. The data is from the ABA's website and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

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Judicial nominees can receive one of three ratings from the ABA: well qualified, qualified or not qualified. In cases where the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary is not unanimous in its verdict, two ratings are given, although the rating of the majority is the official rating. The relative size of each component of a divided committee vote, either a substantial majority or a majority, is provided as well.

The overwhelming majority of nominees are destined for one of the 94 U.S. District Courts (USDC), the federal trial court for most judicial matters. There is one nominee pending for the U.S. Court of Appeals (USCA) for the 5th Circuit and one pending for United States Court of International Trade.

Those nominated to the United States Court of Federal Claims were excluded from the list because they are not rated by the ABA.

The ABA determines a judge's qualifications for confirmation based on professional credentials and experience. Political considerations and policy preferences do not factor into the group's considerations. Instead, the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates each nominee's professional background, competence and judicial temperament.

According to the ABA, a rating of well qualified signifies that a nominee is "at the top of the legal profession in his or her legal community; [has] outstanding legal ability, breadth of experience, and the highest reputation for integrity; and demonstrate[s] the capacity for sound judicial temperament."

A rating of qualified constitutes an endorsement for the federal bench. A not qualified rating indicates a nominee does not meet one or more of the ABA's standards for evaluation.

During the first two years of his presidency, Trump had the lowest percentage of judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate out of at least the previous six presidents. The Senate elected to confirm just over half of the nominees advanced by Trump during the first two years of his presidency, compared with 83 percent of nominees confirmed during President Barack Obama's tenure.

Republicans have blamed Democratic obstruction for this lagging figure. Recent tallies, however, shine a more favorable light on Trump's ability to get nominees approved. As of August, 70 percent of his district court nominees and 93 percent of his appellate judges had been confirmed, according to the Brookings Institution.

Date of NominationNomineeCourtABA Rating
01/23/2019Philip M. HalpernUSDC: Southern District of New YorkWell Qualified
01/23/2019Matthew Walden McFarlandUSDC: Southern District of OhioQualified (majority)
Not Qualified (minority)
02/06/2019Stanley Blumenfeld Jr.USDC: Central District of CaliforniaWell Qualified
02/06/2019Jeremy Brooks RosenUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaWell Qualified (substantial majority)
Qualified (minority)
02/06/2019Mark C. ScarsiUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaWell Qualified
03/05/2019Robert John ColvilleUSDC: Western District of PennsylvaniaWell Qualified
03/11/2019Stephanie Dawkins DavisUSDC: Eastern District of MichiganWell Qualified
05/13/2019Douglas Russel ColeUSDC: Southern District of OhioWell Qualified
05/13/2019Kea Whetzal RiggsUSDC: District of New Mexico*Well Qualified (substantial majority)
Qualified (minority)
05/21/2019Gary Richard BrownUSDC: Eastern District of New YorkWell Qualified
05/21/2019Diane GujaratiUSDC: Eastern District of New YorkWell Qualified
05/21/2019Lewis J. LimanUSDC: Southern District of New YorkWell Qualified
05/21/2019Mary Kay VyskocilUSDC: Southern District of New YorkWell Qualified
05/21/2019John L. Sinatra Jr.USDC: Western District of New YorkQualified
06/12/2019Kevin Ray SweazeaUSDC: District of New MexicoWell Qualified
06/12/2019David B. BarlowUSDC: District of UtahWell Qualified
06/24/2019Halil Suleyman OzerdenUSCA: Fifth CircuitWell Qualified (substantial majority)
Qualified (minority)
06/24/2019John Fitzgerald KnessUSDC: Northern District of IllinoisQualified
07/08/2019R. Austin Huffaker Jr.USDC: Middle District of AlabamaWell Qualified
09/09/2019Karen Spencer MarstonUSDC: Eastern District of PennsylvaniaWell Qualified
09/09/2019Richard Ernest Myers IIUSDC: Eastern District of North CarolinaWell Qualified (substantial majority)
Qualified (minority)
09/09/2019Sarah E. PitlykUSDC: Eastern District of MissouriNot Qualified
09/09/2019Jodi W. DishmanUSDC: Western District of Oklahoma*Well Qualified
09/09/2019Anuraag SinghalUSDC: Southern District of FloridaWell Qualified
09/19/2019Daniel Mack TraynorUSDC: District of North DakotaWell Qualified
10/15/2019Silvia Carreño-CollUSDC: District of Puerto RicoWell Qualified
10/15/2019Barbara Bailey JongbloedUSDC: District of ConnecticutWell Qualified
10/15/2019John M. GallagherUSDC: Eastern District of PennsylvaniaWell Qualified (substantial majority)
Qualified (minority)
10/15/2019Sherri A. LydonUSDC: District of South CarolinaWell Qualified
10/15/2019Cory T. WilsonUSDC: Southern District of MississippiRating pending
10/15/2019Scott Hugh RashUSDC: District of ArizonaWell Qualified
10/17/2019Fernando L. Aenlle-RochaUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaWell Qualified
10/17/2019Sandy Nunes LealUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaRating pending
10/17/2019Rick Lloyd RichmondUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaRating pending
10/17/2019Adam L. BravermanUSDC: Southern District of CaliforniaRating pending
10/17/2019R. Shireen MatthewsUSDC: Southern District of CaliforniaRating pending
10/17/2019Bernard Maurice Jones IIUSDC: Western District of OklahomaWell Qualified
10/17/2019Stephen A. VadenUS Court of International TradeQualified (substantial majority)
Not Qualified (minority)
11/21/2019Joshua M. KindredUSDC: District of AlaskaQualified
11/21/2019John W. HolcombUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaRating pending
11/21/2019Steve KimUSDC: Central District of CaliforniaRating pending
11/21/2019Knut Sveinbjorn JohnsonUSDC: Southern District of CaliforniaRating pending
11/21/2019Michelle M. PettitUSDC: Southern District of CaliforniaRating pending
11/21/2019Todd Wallace RobinsonUSDC: Southern District of CaliforniaRating pending
11/21/2019Jennifer P. TogliattiUSDC: District of NevadaRating pending
12/02/2019John Peter CronanUSDC: Southern District of New YorkRating pending
12/02/2019Iris LanUSDC: Southern District of New YorkRating pending
12/02/2019William Scott HardyUSDC: Western District of PennsylvaniaRating pending
12/02/2019David Cleveland JosephUSDC: Western District of LouisianaRating pending
12/02/2019John Charles HinderakerUSDC: District of ArizonaWell Qualified
12/02/2019John F. Heil IIIUSDC: Northern, Eastern and Western districts of OklahomaRating pending

* An asterisk in the chart above indicates that one member of the ABA Standing Committee abstained from a nominee's vote. Bolded entries indicate a nominee was confirmed by the Senate this week and may not be sworn in yet.

Donald Trump is on Track to Confirm 180 Federal Judges—Just As He Predicted in November | U.S.